Basic Gemmology Course (BGC)

(12 days, 4000.- Swiss Francs)

This basic training course is an intense gemmological programme that offers an ideal introduction to gemmology over 12 days. The main topics include: identification of gemstones, diamond testing and pearl testing.  Successful participants of the final exam will receive the SSEF Basic Gemmologist Diploma.

Aims of this course:

The aim of this course is to offer participants a broad introduction to gemmology by examining coloured gemstones, diamonds and pearls. Basic gemmological techniques will be learned in order to identify gemstones and their simulants. Students will spend a lot of time working practically on gemstones from the large SSEF collection.

Course structure:

The Basic Gemmology Course (BGC) is designed in two parts. The first part (usually the morning session) will give you an insight into theoretical basics of the course topic. In the second part (usually during the afternoon session) you will be able to do extensive practical work using our gemmological instruments and samples from our large collection. Each participant will receive exhaustive course notes.

Day 1:

Introduction to Gemmology

  • Introduction of gemstones and basic gemmological instruments: application, results, identification, limitations.
  • History and mining of gemstones
  • Using gemmological tables and reference books
  • Practical training

Day 2:

Identification of rough gemstones using classical instruments

  • Use of loupe, microscope, refractometer, polariscope, spectroscope
  • Features of a rock, a crystal, a pebble and a fragment
  • Short introduction into geology of gemstone deposits
  • Crystal growth, shape and symmetry of crystals
  • Fracture and cleavage, colour and transparency, inclusions
  • Which kind of information can you get when testing rough stones
  • How to distinguish synthetic rough stones from natural ones
  • Practical training

Day 3:

Practical Training

  • Testing numerous gemstones from course collection with different instruments
  • UV-lamp and other instruments
  • Identification of gemstones using worksheet

Day 4:

Natural gemstones, synthetics, and artificial products

  • Definitions of natural gemstones, synthetics and artificial products
  • Techniques for synthesis
  • Synthetic growth conditions
  • Typical features of synthetic materials and their identification
  • Learning to use microscope
  • Practical training with synthetic samples

Day 5:

Gemstone treatments, part 1

  • General introduction into most common gemstone treatments (e.g. beryl, corundum, diamond, jade, topaz…)
  • The stability of treatments
  • The detection and disclosure of treatments
  • Practical training

Day 6:

Gemstone treatments, part 2

  • The thermal enhancement of corundum
  • The fracture filling of emeralds (beryl)
  • How to detect fracture fillings in emeralds and quantify the filler
  • Disclosure of enhanced sapphires, rubies and emeralds after CIBJO
  • Practical training

Day 7:


  • Introduction and Origin of diamonds
  • Diamond mining
  • The quality of the four C’s: Carat, Cut, Clarity and Colour
  • The impact of the diamond grade on the value of the diamond
  • Diamond grading
  • Synthetic diamonds
  • Diamond treatments
  • Diamond imitations
  • Practical training

Day 8:

Practical training

  • Full day practical training on SSEF course collection stones (coloured gemstones, diamonds, imitations etc.)

Day 9:


  • Definitions of natural pearls, cultured pearls and imitations
  • The formation of a natural pearl
  • Pearl culture techniques
  • Major sources of natural and cultured pearls
  • Identifying imitations (e.g. “Majorica pearls”)
  • Common trade names and characteristisc of cultured pearls (e.g. Akoya-, Tahiti-, South Sea cultured pearls)
  • Treatments
  • Testing and identification of natural and cultured pearls (using loupe, microscope, X-radiography)
  • Practical training

Day 10:

Workshop and practical preparation for the final exam.

Day 11:

Workshop and practical preparation for the final exam.

Day 12:

Exam for the SSEF Basic Gemmology Diploma.